Jockey Club See 8pc Turnover Increase to USD226m

June 7, 2011

Horse racing’s largest commercial organisation, The Jockey Club, saw turnover rise by 8 per cent last year to £138m (US$226.6m).

The organisation has claimed that having provided £13m ($21.3m) in prize money in 2010, it will increase this to a record £15.7m ($25.7m) this year.

The Jockey Club’s assets include the leading group of racecourses in the UK, as well as the famous estates of Newmarket, Lambourn and Epsom Downs.

The hugely popular sport has been hit by bookmakers moving offshore and not having to pay the horse racing betting levy on the right to take bets on British races, which goes towards veterinary science, prize money, training and breeding programmes.

Simon Bazalgette, the group chief executive of the Jockey Club, admitted that this was the biggest hurdle the industry faced, saying: “Gambling’s pretty resilient. It tends to not go down as much as the rest of the economy during recessions so that’s gone well.

“The main problem for us is that although there’s £1bn ($1.64bn) that the bookmakers make out of British horse racing, they’re not paying their share of the levy to racing to keep the prize money up and that really is where legislation from the government is required.”

Last winter’s unusually bad weather also affected the sport, leading to cancelled meetings but Bazalgette claimed that, ignoring the impact of the cold weather, racecourse attendances were well up on the previous year and other areas of income, such as hospitality revenues, were also bouncing back.